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Quintessential quintet

MALCOLM MILLER admires the
Etesian Ensemble's period performance concert
with a Beethoven arrangement première


Superb period performance of classical works for wind and fortepiano including a modern première of a Beethoven arrangement infused the Sunday afternoon recital by the youthful Etesian Ensemble with a special sense of occasion. The concert, on 10 February 2002, was the fourth of the current concert season presented by the enterprising Glenilla Arts Foundation season in London's Belsize Park, a venue which has provided a platform for many leading artists at the start of their careers. This fine young ensemble are recent graduates of London's Royal Academy of Music and The Royal Conservatory in the Hague, and all perform in some of the leading period orchestras of Europe. Their crystalline articulation, and dynamic rhythmic drive, especially propelled by the American pianist Kathryn Cok, was displayed to telling effect in a colourful programme of Mozart, Beethoven (arranged by A F Wurstrow) and Danzi. The Etesian Ensemble have an admirable rapport and unanimity of intention and articulation, their enthusiasm matched by technical poise and finesse. Above all the sound world they communicate is far from dry and academic, but a pulsating expressive recreation of early music.

They launched their programme with Mozart's well known Piano and Wind Quintet in which the balance of fortepiano (a 1780s reproduction with knee pedal) and early wind was initially surprising. Yet soon one could appreciate how the clarity and the delicacy of the piano in contrast to the rich woodwind was the raison d'etre for Mozart's frequent dialogual textures, and his use of piano passagework with sustained wind lines, highlighting the melodic material and drama with all the more veracity and intensity. The sparkling piano scales and arpeggios, supporting lyrical melodic lines accorded to wind, had a slightly more harpsichord-like resonance than would a slightly later fortepiano, but this did not affect the exciting projection, as in the modulatory first movement development, the flowing lyricism of the Larghetto and the ebullient panache of the Allegretto finale. Wind textures were finely balanced throughout, with rich support by the bassoonist Wouter Verschuren, playing a historic 18th century instrument, and beautifully shaded timbres of the historical reproductions, the mellow oboe of Zilla Gillman, the noble, warm horn lines of Annelee Scott, and Helen Parsons' creamy clarinet.

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Copyright © 12 February 2002 Malcolm Miller, London, UK




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